Student kills two in Moscow school hostage drama

Agence France-Presse
The hostage-taker was one of the students of school number 263 on the northern outskirts of Moscow, police officials said

SCHOOL CRISIS. Pupils of Moscow school number 263 leave the building escorted by policemen on February 3, 2014. Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP

MOSCOW, Russia –  An armed student on Monday briefly took 20 teenagers hostage in a Moscow school and killed a policeman and a teacher before being detained amid security jitters ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Witnesses said the suspect – described as a ‘straight-A’ pupil named Sergei Gordeyev – charged into the school wielding two rifles and ordered a security guard to lead him to a specific classroom in the two-story building on the northern outskirts of Moscow.

The hostage-taker bolted himself inside with about 20 teenaged pupils and the class teacher.

He then opened fire through a window at scores of police who had rushed to the scene. Security officials said the student made no demands during the broad daylight attack.

“He killed a policeman and wounded another,” Russian interior ministry spokesman Andrei Pilipchuk told the state-run Vesti-24 news channel.

“He also killed the teacher.”

The Russian interior ministry said the hostage-taker had been detained during a police raid on the school and that all the students were now safe and unharmed.

“None of the students has been harmed,” Pilipchuk told Vesti 24. “They are all alive and well.”

Live footage showed a group of children running from the white-and-pink building and an emergencies ministry police helicopter hovering above the snow-covered school yard.

Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin both immediately rushed to the scene of a crisis that underscored the security problems facing Russia as it prepares to host the Winter Games in Sochi on Friday.

Security has been a prime concern for President Vladimir Putin – his personal and political prestige linked closely to the success of the Games – because Sochi is located near the volatile North Caucasus region where Russia has been battling an Islamic insurgency for most of the past two decades. (READ: Obama says Sochi Olympics ‘safe’)

Islamists who want to carve out their own state in southern Russia have vowed to stage deadly attacks during the Games that would undermine Putin and show that he lacks control over the vast country.

Russia has been on heightened alert ever since successive-day late December suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd killed 34 people at a railway station and on a trolleybus.

The attack was later claimed by two young men from Russia’s North Caucasus in a video message that promised more strikes.

Security analysts believe that Sochi itself will be relatively safe both for athletes and visitors because of the extraordinary security precautions that have been taken at the Black Sea resort port.

Russia has deployed 37,000 security personnel around Sochi and is also patrolling the Black Sea for possible signs of an attack.

But analysts point out that the extra security measures being taken around the Olympic host city may leave other parts of the country exposed.

Many of the foreign visitors arriving for the Games will enter Russia through Moscow before travelling on to Sochi.

‘Straight-A student’

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin identified the victims as geography class teacher Andrei Kirillov and policeman Sergei Bushuyev.

Markin said Gordeyev was an exemplary student who appeared to have had a conflict over grades with one of his teachers.

“Sergei Gordeyev was a straight-A student,” Markin told reporters. “It appears that he had an emotional breakdown.”

The suspect’s classmates described his behavior during the crisis as both calculated and callous.

“He shot the teacher in the stomach. Then he wanted to make sure that he was dead, so he fired another ‘insurance’ shot to the head,” an unidentified female classmate was quoted as saying by the website.

Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that extra security measures would immediately be taken across all schools in the city of 11.5 million people.

“I have made a decision to conduct a complete review of how our school security system is working, and to take additional steps,” Sobyanin said in televised remarks.

Such shooting rampages are highly unusual in Russia and private gun ownership is low. –